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Do England have a genuine chance of winning the World Cup?

England
Photo: Getty Images

England

Do England have a genuine chance of winning the World Cup?

Two games into the tournament, optimism is high.

England’s dominant display against Panama on Sunday afternoon has generated a growing feeling of confidence and self-belief throughout the country.

The result means that Gareth Southgate’s side have qualified for the knock out stages with a game to spare following two consecutive victories and supporters have taken confidence from two impressive performances.

Maybe, just maybe, the World Cup is really ‘coming home’.

Here, we explain why England have a genuine chance of winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

This World Cup is wide open

Before you even begin to consider England’s performances so far this summer a quick glance over the entire tournament will tell you that this World Cup is wide open.

Very few of the big-name countries have hit the ground running and many have stumbled throughout the group stages with some high-profile names facing an early exit.

Current World Cup holders Germany are out after a dismal group stage, whilst Argentina squeezed through by the skin of their teeth after failing to win either of their opening contests.

Brazil have failed to really get going so far, Cristiano Ronaldo has had to single-handedly drag Portugal through the early stages of the tournament, and France have looked anything less than inspiring.

Only Belgium have lived up to expectations thus far and, it is fair to say that, while they will undoubtedly reach the latter stages of the competition, they do not look invincible.

The scene is now set and it is up to England to capitalise

Momentum

Momentum is one of the most underrated factors that influence sporting performance at an elite level.

Once a team begins to consistently win games, score goals and construct a lengthy unbeaten run then, regardless of quality, it can be incredibly hard for opponents to halt the runaway train.

Confidence within the squad blossoms and the players begin to walk out onto the pitch expecting to win and believing that they will not be beaten.

England are unbeaten in their last 16 international games and their last defeat came two years ago when they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland.

This is a team that has generated momentum, confidence and belief over the previous two years and the two performances so far in Russia will only enhance that.

The ruthless display against Panama, albeit against poor opposition, will be a significant boost for Gareth Southgate and his team psychologically.

If England can avoid defeat against Belgium in their final group game then they will go into the knock out stages of the tournament with considerable momentum and, on current form, you would suggest that the team would take some stopping.

(Photo by Martin Bernetti/Getty Images)

Harry Kane

In previous international tournaments big-name England players have often struggled to perform under pressure. However, Harry Kane has had no such issues so far this summer.

The 24-year-old is one of the youngest captains at the World Cup and yet he is flourishing despite the lofty expectations that have been placed on his shoulders by supporters and the media, alike.

Prior to the competition there were questions regarding whether the Tottenham Hotspur striker would be able to convert his prolific form at club level onto the biggest stage in World football.

That question has definitively been answered in his opening two games.

Kane followed up his two goals against Tunisia with a hat-trick against Panama and he is currently leading the World Cup goal scoring charts.

If anyone had any doubts about whether he is one of the best strikers in the world prior to the tournament then they will certainly not have any now.

The positive for England is that Kane is in superb form and you just feel that he is always likely to score a goal.

In the latter stages of the tournament, against better opposition and when games will undoubtedly be a little more tighter and cagey, you would back the 24-year-old man to convert any sort of half-chance that falls in his direction.

Goals are the most valuable commodity in football, especially at the pinnacle of international football. One thing we know about Harry Kane is that he guarantees goals.

Martyn Cooke

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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